Monday, February 19, 2018

#TarotSpreadTuesday Valentine's Day Edition

A few days late to the blog, but oh well! It's been on Instagram since Tuesday, so I don't feel like I'm cheating too badly.

Anyway! Valentine's Day. Love Day. Love Yourself Day. It's all one big, warm heart, wrapped in fuzzy blankets and a hug.

For this week, we've got a tarot spread double-feature. One spread is for examining a partnership (of any kind, not just romantic), and the other is a self-love spread. On Valentine's Day, we often think of showing our affection for others, and that's great. We should do that. But just as much so, we need to show ourselves love, too. In doing so, we naturally gain a greater ability to connect with others.

Valentine's Day: Relationship Spread

While this spread works wonderfully for romantic relationships, it can also be used to assess friendships, interpersonal relationships in the workplace, familial relationships, etc.

If you don't have a romantic partner *cough*likeme*cough*, don't get down or feel that you can't use this spread. There are lots of fun ways to use it!

Spread Positions

  1. Foundation of the relationship.
  2. Past. Something to let go of.
  3. What the relationship needs now.
  4. Future. Something to bring into the relationship.
  5. Your strengths as a partner.
  6. Your weaknesses as a partner.
  7. What you can teach your partner.
  8. Your partner's strengths as a partner.
  9. Your partner's weaknesses as a partner.
  10. What your partner can teach you.

Valentine's Day: Self-Love-Me Spread

This spread is for anyone at any stage in his/her life because we are all on our own self-love journeys. This spread is meant to help identify our relationship with self-love as a concept, our practice of it, and our expression of it in relation to others.

Self-love is about showing kindness to yourself. We often are so busy dealing with exterior issues, people, problems, work, etc. that we don't take the time to focus on our own needs and how to deal with those needs in a way that is positive, constructive, and generous to our spirits. There are so many toxic pressures in the world (e.g., comparison to others, negative self-talk, not believing we can do certain things, etc.), but we need to realize that we can break these negative habits. We can and should turn inward the love and grace we so often show to others.

Self-love is about forgiving yourself, accepting yourself, and acknowledging the bitter, fantastic journey that has gotten you to this point right now.

Spread Positions

  1. Self-Love Shadow. Why it's difficult (in your mind) to love yourself.
  2. Why you need to love yourself.
  3. What can help you love yourself.
  4. Practice Self-Love in Mind.
  5. Practice Self-Love in Body.
  6. Practice Self-Love in Spirit.
  7. How loving yourself helps others.
  8. How loving yourself will help you understand others better.
  9. What you can achieve in the world if you love yourself right *now*.

It is my sincere hope that these spreads inspire you to explore your relationships with yourself and with others.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

What's In My Bag? February 2018

Welcome to "What's In My Bag," your behind-the-scenes glimpse into what I get up to each month.

Inside my vintage leather satchel (I've nicknamed it my "PhD satchel" because I totally look like a proper grad student with it), I carry books that I'm reading, tarot decks I plan to use on-the-go, and anything else that I think I'll need on a daily basis.

Let's take a look!

Something of an eclectic selection, I suppose!

(From left to right)

"Time-Space Traveler" Magazine. This magazine is a monthly digest with different subjects (and thus different names) each month. This time, it happens to be about all different forms of divination throughout the world!

The magazine focuses not only on what forms of divination there are but also the history of those divination systems. Besides tarot, divination systems such as rune-reading, palmistry (both Western and Eastern), prophetic dreams, Feng Sui, aura reading, and MUCH more are described to a degree of depth that readers can get a pretty good idea of what's going on and how to get into it.

I found this completely by chance today at the convenience store where I always buy bottled water for spin class. The tarot cards on the front drew my attention straight away, and before I knew it, the magazine ended up in my bag (after I paid for it, of course)!

Medieval Scapini Tarot. This is a tarot I got in a trade back in December but haven't had the time to really use as much as I wanted to.

A cross between the Visconti-Sforza (in terms of visual style) and RWS (in terms of scenic Minors), this deck is really appealing and easy to read with. I'm looking forward to working with it more this month!

Polka Dot Reusable Bag. I never leave home without at least one of these foldable bags in my bag. (Bag-ception!) Besides groceries, I carry any and all purchases that don't fit neatly into my satchel in it.

Schedule Book/Diary. I can't gush enough about how much I love my "Alice in Wonderland" schedule book/diary! I can keep track of everything I need to do on a monthly and weekly level, and I have pages to write on, draw on, collage on, and (my favorite) scrapbook on.

I like to use washi tape to affix movie ticket stubs and cards onto the blank page across from each weekly schedule page. And I journal all of my new moon and full moon tarot readings in it.

Wallet. (The red thing at the bottom-ish.) Well, this is quite clearly a staple in my satchel because... everything. I need my ID cards, railway pass, cash/credit cards, etc. I've also got a lot of point-cards in there, so I get freebies for shopping!

"The Art of Chart Interpretation" by Tracy Marks. This is quite simply the best astrology book I can recommend to anyone. While it is an advanced book, foregoing the meanings and interpretations of the planets, signs, and houses (the author assumes one already knows those well enough before picking up the book), the true strength of "The Art of Chart Interpretation" lies in the author's ability to cogently and accessibly describe larger patterns the astrology practitioner should look for, as well as their interpretations, in order to synthesize the chart as a whole.

Marks states up front that it's all too easy to get bogged down in the minute details of a natal chart, and this book seeks to guide readers to look for significant and stand-out patterns that are important to the sitter/client and his/her personality, goals, and personal power.

Morgan-Greer Tarot in a Tin. I just love that this deck is in a tin. Because it is so well protected, this deck survived a MASSIVE typhoon that I got stuck in for two days... outside. (My other deck wasn't so lucky. RIP.)

I whip this out when a friend wants some tarot advice, when a stranger wants tarot advice, when I want tarot advice... you get where this is going. I've read with this deck in bars, hot springs, movie theaters, railway stations, and all manner of places in between.

It's a deck I'm comfortable reading with because the imagery is basically a stylized RWS, which is a deck I'm intimately familiar with. I don't mind the bright colors and I really like that the deck is borderless. Plus, it's a great travel size!


I hope this has been a fun foray into my world! Come back next month to see what's changed and what I'm still working with!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What Happened to Me for the Last 6 Months?!


What the hell happened that six months passed without a peep from me?

Well, the first and easiest excuse is that I've been working relentlessly on finishing my MA thesis. It had to be written entirely in Japanese, which was a process. Lots of rewrites and corrections to make.

Second, I was writing and submitting PhD applications. Because of the caliber of schools to which I applied, I was under immense pressure to perfect each application to the best of my ability. I didn't have much help on those either, so it was like groping around in the dark, hoping to resonate with the admissions officers.

On top of that, my general environment is stressful -- what with living in a socially, er, problematic country, and I've always put a lot of pressure on myself. A bad combination. It led to a serious deterioration of my physical health in the autumn, and I was out of commission for a week. My mental health didn't prove much better, but I've come out of things alright in the end.

Anyway! I'm hoping to get off my butt and really be consistent this year, as much as I can be. I've got a few weekly/monthly goals lined up, though, which should keep me on track.

  • 1st of every month: What's in My Bag? This is meant to give you a special look at what I carry around with me every day, especially relating to what esoteric stuff I stash in the deep recesses of my satchel.
  • 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month: Tarot Spread Tuesday. It's back! I decided on a schedule and creative method that really works for me, so I can maintain the pace and practice on a more realistic level.
  • Every Friday: Blog Post. I don't know what they'll be about exactly, but I'm going to try to expound on each subject in a way that, I hope, will shed more light on the human condition, how we interact with the world around us, and (of course) how the tarot can guide us through those aspects and processes.

By the way, the two Tarot Spread Tuesday spreads for January can be found on my Instagram page, @cardsandcups

I hope to see you all around more often!

Blessings! <3

Saturday, July 8, 2017

International Tarot Day Blog Hop: Six of Wands

In celebration of the first annual International Tarot Day, a bunch of us from all over the globe have gotten together to bring you a fabulous blog hop through the tarot deck!  I'm so honored to be a part of this huge endeavor!

My card is the Six of Wands.

Ta daa!

For me, the Six of Wands is more than a card of victory.  It's an indication and celebration of the battles fought and won.

While we may bask in the glory of onlookers and even derive further motivation from their cheers, we still know in our heart of hearts that getting to this point was not easy.  We fought tooth and nail to survive, and very likely we didn't come out of our skirmishes unscathed.

This sense of triumph in the Six of Wands is especially poignant because it follows the strife of the Five.  Depending on one's view of the Five of Wands, the fighting could be between friends or colleagues, as a result of one's own excessive passions (for better or for worse), or any of a myriad of interpretations.  But there's generally a sense of crisis about the card.

The Six, on the other hand, shows us the aftermath of that strife, and it's very often depicted as a victory procession through streets full of admiring spectators.

What is sometimes missing from -- and what I find very important about -- the Six of Wands is the internalized aspect of the central figure.  How does s/he feel about the fight that s/he seems to have won?  What wounds has s/he sustained?  What people or things did s/he have to sacrifice for victory?  Who did s/he lose along the way?

When this exalted figure looks up to the heavens or out in the crowd, what to they contemplate?

This is precisely what I hoped to evoke in my own rendition of the Six of Wands.  I wanted to look at the internal changes that only a true test of fire can effect in us.

Okay.  I'll be the first to admit that I'm no artist and that I only dabble in fine arts.  (Crafts are another story!)  Meaning, please don't judge me/my work too harshly!  While the end result may not be spectacular (it looks better in person, I swear!), I did spend a lot of time on it, and I hope that effort comes through.

Six of Wands

I wanted this figure to be rather androgynous and definitely battle-worn.  The armor isn't shining; it's dented, dirtied, and chipped from the blows of his/her opponents.  His/her greaves are caked with mud, and the shredded cape and livery are stained with blood (their own or of the fallen?).

S/he is weary of fighting.  The true victory is that it's over... for now.


I realize my  post is a bit on the short side, but I'm gonna chalk that one up to extra effort put into my project.

I truly hope you've enjoyed my little contribution to the blog hop!

We seem to be skipping the Seven, but do make sure you check out the Eight of Wands by Jill Pitts at The Astro Dancer.

Have you hopped into the middle of our leap-frog?  Then do take a look at Vix's tarot spread for the Five of Wands at New Age Hipster.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Sharing is Caring: Unmasking the Divine's Shadow Work Tree of Life Spread

DISCLAIMER:  Before I do anything, I must acknowledge that I did NOT create this spread.  It is the work of one Unmasking the Divine on Tumblr.  I'm merely providing the spread here by popular demand and because finding it on the original site proves rather difficult.  Furthermore, I have my own thoughts on the spread and how to use it, so I wanted to discuss those at the same time.  I have managed to locate the page on which the creator has provided the spread and positions.  It can be found here.  Definitely show this awesome shadow worker some love for this great spread!

About the Tree of Life Spread

This spread is totally MASSIVE, and I highly recommend preparing a large space for it, even if you're working with a mini-deck.  There are a total of 24 card that cover a large area both vertically and horizontally.  Maybe clear off the kitchen table or dedicate a section of the floor so you can easily behold your shadowy masterpiece.

I see this spread as a starting point for an extended period (or periods) of shadow work.  Because the spread deals with so many aspects of the shadow -- and delves a bit into each -- it begs for further exploration into the various roots and branches of the tree.

Each card thus represents both an answer and raises new questions about the shadow that you can and should probe in your own time and in your own way.  I strongly suggest breaking up your dedicated shadow work into a few manageable periods that focus on certain parts of the spread so as to avoid mental and emotional exhaustion.

For what it's worth, I usually dedicate 14 days at a time for shadow work.  You should definitely find a time frame that is suitable for you.  Also, please make sure you are mentally and emotionally ready for shadow work.  It can be an intense process, and having a stable mind-state from he get-go will allow you to really see how parts of the shadow affect you.  If you feel so called, having a support network in place might also be a good idea.

The Tree of Life Spread

This spread is aptly called "The Tree of Life."  Its roots show the figures and conditioning of your past.  The branches show areas that are affecting you now and how you can deal with them.  The trunk summarizes key points in your shadow.

The image of the spread (and later, the positions) are from my personal Tarot Spreads Notebook, a collection of spreads both of my own creation and those I've come across from others as I walked my tarot journey.

Well, here it is!


So what do these numbers mean?

The Card Positions

Again, these images come from my Tarot Spreads Notebook.

My handwriting is a hot mess, so if you can't read it, here are the positions in clear text.

  1. Childhood.  What facet of my childhood have I overlooked or need to reevaluate?
  2. Home Life.  What aspect of my home life might I benefit from taking into consideration?
  3. Mother.  What element of the mother archetype might I benefit from considering?
  4. Father.  What element of the father archetype might I benefit from considering?
  5. Siblings.  What element of my childhood companionships might I benefit form exploring?
  6. Upbringing.  What aspect of my upbringing might I benefit from taking into consideration?
  7. Culture.  What aspect of my cultural conditioning might I benefit from taking into consideration?
  8. Religion.  What aspect of my religious background might I benefit from taking into consideration? 
  9. Society.  What aspect of my societal influence might I benefit from taking into consideration?
  10. Experiences.  What past experiences have I repressed, glorified, or otherwise need to fully process?
  11. Ego.  What quality of my self-image might I benefit from evaluating?
  12. Fear.  What fear(s) might I benefit from considering?
  13. Attachments.  What attachments(s) might I benefit from letting go of?
  14. Aversions.  What aversion(s) might I benefit from confronting?
  15. Habits.  What habit(s) might I benefit from analyzing?
  16. Ambitions.  What ambitions would I benefit from reconsidering?
  17. Thought Patterns.  What quality of my thought patterns might I benefit from realizing?
  18. Belief Systems.  What aspect of my belief system might I benefit from contemplating?
  19. Desires.  Which of my desires would I benefit from exploring?
  20. Current Condition.  What quality of my current condition is being most heavily impacted by my subconscious?
  21. Relationships.  What about my relationships might I benefit from evaluating?
  22. Projections.  What do my projections say about me?
  23. Reflections.  What do my reflections say about me?
  24. Shadow.  What aspect of my shadow might I benefit from working with?

Working with The Tree of Life for Shadow Work

As you can see, there are lots of parts to the spread, but you can break it down into smaller sections for an in-depth exploration of that aspect of the shadow.  If might be a good idea to handle one section at a time, diving deep into you shadow each time before looking for larger, overarching trends that run through all of them.

This is how I personally would break down the roots and branches of The Tree of Life for manageable periods of shadow work.  Keep in mind, this is not a hard-and-fast way to tackle the spread.  It's just the patterns in it that I see.

2-5:  Personal Past

This is the area where the people, archetypes, and relationships in you past have had an indelible effect on your psychic subconscious.

6-9:  Past Surroundings

This is the area where the institutionalized social norms have had a major effect on your subconscious condition.

1, 10:  A Summary of Childhood and Adolescence

These two cards are an at-a-glace descriptor of your youth, and it might be interesting to see how they compare and contrast with each other.  I feel that Card 1 is more of the starting point, whereas card 10 is more of a summary.

12-15:  Present Restrictions

This is the area that keeps you from moving forward in the present.  Regaining control over aspects in this area is part of a major step toward a more complete and free self.

16-19:  Present Ways to Move Forward

These are the aspects you should consider very carefully so that you can go on to live your life in a healthy and satisfying way.

11, 20:  A Summary of the Ego and Subconscious

These two cards focus on how your ego and subconscious interact to hold you back or allow you freedom.

21-23:  Ways the Shadow Manifests Itself in Life

These cards show how your shadow and subconscious act on and influence your interactions with others and yourself.  Understanding these cards will empower you to change any negative patterns that appear in your life.

24:  The Shadow Aspect

As the card position says, this is the aspect of the shadow that you can most benefit from working with.  It might be an aspect you like or one that you consistently resist.  Whatever the case may be, confronting, understanding, and fully welcoming this aspect into your life in a healthy way will be the key to your self-power.


This is just how I would approach it.  You are, of course, free to work on parts of the spread or cards as you feel so called to address them.  

And definitely don't feel that you have to start at any one place.  If you don't feel as if there are shadows to address in your childhood or upbringing, you can save them for last or skip them entirely.  If you feel an area of strong resistance, you might want to start there or do it down the line once you've gotten a good feel for how to conduct your shadow work.  It's all up to you!

I hope this post has been of service to you!